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Grrrl Con 2021 *CANCELLED*



11 - 13 Jun 2021

10.00 - 18.00 each day

Manchester Metropolitan University

In partnership with:
Write Like A Grrrl

Sadly, we’ve made the decision to cancel Grrrl Con 2021, and hope to be back in future when it’s safe and viable to do so. All ticket-holders will be refunded, and we’ll be in contact with you about that soon. If you haven’t had your refund or been contacted by us about this by the end of February 2021, please get in touch.

Postponed from our original 2020 dates, we’ll be back in 2021 with the triumphant return of Grrrl Con, a three-day celebration of women and non-binary writers.

We’re building Grrrl Con 2021 around “the three Rs”: rebellion, revolution and response. We understand that it’s hard to keep up your creativity in a world that sometimes feels like it’s coming apart, but creativity is an act of rebellion! It can revolutionise the ways in which you and others view the world and the things and people in it — and art and creativity can be a vital response when times are hard. How can we best use our words to rebel, revolutionise, respond and take responsibility? These are our central questions for Grrrl Con 2021.

Grrrl Con will take place in Manchester from 11th-13th June 2021, and we’ve planned an incredible, inspiring programme of speakers just for you. There will be keynote talks from women and non-binary writers changing the worlds of writing and publishing, along with workshops from Write Like A Grrrl‘s core trio of tutors: Kerry Ryan, Jane Claire Bradley, and Claire Askew.

There will be writing time built into the weekend, so you can begin to create new work in reaction to what you hear and learn, and there’ll be a chance for you to hear from Write Like A Grrrl alumni who’ve found success in their own writing ventures since our last Grrrl Con.

Please read on for more on what you can expect from Grrrl Con 2021. We’re still confirming additions to the line-up, so you can also join the mailing list using the link below to be kept up-to-date about programme announcements.

Still not sure? Read about our previous Grrrl Con events, including what past attendees had to say, here.

Keynote Speaker


Bernadine Evaristo

Bernadine Evaristo is the Anglo-Nigerian award-winning author of several books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her novel Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize in 2019. Her writing also spans short fiction, reviews, essays, drama and writing for BBC radio. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, London, and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. She was made an MBE in 2009. As a literary activist for inclusion Bernardine has founded a number of successful initiatives, including Spread the Word writer development agency (1995-ongoing); the Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-2017) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012-ongoing).

Keynote Speaker


Jenn Ashworth

After taking Grrrl Con 2017 by storm, Jenn Ashworth is back! Jenn’s first novel, A Kind of Intimacy, was published in 2009 and won a Betty Trask Award. On the publication of her second, Cold Light (Sceptre, 2011) she was featured on the BBC’s The Culture Show as one of the UK’s twelve best new writers. Her latest book is a memoir-in-essays, Notes Made While Falling. She lives in Lancashire and teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University.


Hear Me Roar: Voice in Creative Writing (Kerry Ryan)

Voice is often an elusive and anxiety-inducing concept for writers. What is it and how do you get it? This workshop will provide you with the tools and confidence to trust your voice so that you can write from a place of true power. Writing in your own voice may feel frightening, exposing, shameful and even dangerous. We’ll look at creative techniques that allow you to write authentically from the heart without fear of exposure and rejection hampering your writing. This workshop will give you the courage to avoid self-censorship while allowing your unique voice to emerge so you can truly connect with readers in the best way possible. It’s taken me some time to free my authentic writing voice and I want to share the approaches that helped me so you can avoid potential pitfalls, ensuring that your story is told your way.

The best words in the best order: what fiction can learn from poetry (Claire Askew)

Many of us love fiction, but loathe poetry – or at least, we try to avoid it.  We’ve been scarred for life by a traumatic exam experience involving Larkin, or worse, Wordsworth.  Poetry’s difficult, poetry’s weird, poetry just isn’t our cup of tea. What’s more, we’re fiction writers – poetry just isn’t really relevant to what we do.
Or is it?
I am both a commercial crime fiction writer and an award-winning poet.  In this workshop, I’d like to show you the ways in which my “long apprenticeship in poetry” has massively informed and improved my fiction writing.  You don’t have to love poetry for it to be a vital addition to your writing toolkit. Study, discuss and try out the crafty stuff that poets do every day, and take away tricks you can apply to your fiction to make it quicker, lighter and more evocative.
(And there will be no Larkin or Wordsworth in sight.  Promise.)

I’m Not Okay: A guide to responsibly writing trauma and trauma survivors (Jane Claire Bradley)

From Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (and a million other stories inbetween), we’ve all read, seen and maybe written protagonists who’ve been Put Through It: characters who’ve experienced violence, abuse, loss, illness, injury, poverty and/or political and environmental upheaval. We’ve seen traumatic experiences used for plot purposes: to catalyse action, set someone on a quest for revenge or to explain someone’s actions or emotions. But if trauma is a part of the story you’re writing, how can you make sure you’re writing it responsibly? Can your characters’ trauma be written in an informed, ethical and multi-dimensional way while still driving plot and character? I’m a prizewinning fiction author and a qualified therapist, and in this session I’ll be exploring the above questions, highlighting some common pitfalls to avoid, and giving you tools to write trauma and trauma survivors with knowledge, empathy and confidence. We won’t be using personal experience in the session, but you’ll get approaches you can apply to any writing – whether your project is based in truth or fiction.

All Grrrl Con attendees will have the opportunity to attend all the above workshops


Arrival and registration takes place from 9.30am each day.
Sessions each day will run from 10am, with an hour’s break for lunch, which will be provided (we’ll be in touch to ask about any allergies or other dietary requirements).
Friday and Saturday will finish at 6pm. Sunday will finish at 4.30pm.

Venue + Accessibility

Thanks to a brilliant partnership with the MMU Writing School, our venue for Grrrl Con 2021 will be MMU spaces in  Manchester city centre (nearest train station: Manchester Oxford Road). The venue is wheelchair accessible, and we will accommodate all other accessibility requirements as best we can. If you have an accessibility question or concern you want to discuss, please get in touch.

Grrrl Con Scholarships + Expenses Fund

We’re putting aside a number of free tickets for women and non-binary writers who would otherwise not be able to afford to attend Grrrl Con 2021. We also have a small fund available to support with the expenses of attending Grrrl Con, such as travel, accommodation and/or childcare. If you’re interested in applying for either or both of these, please fill in this application form by the deadline of 30th March 2021. If you have any questions, please email us.

Event Partner

Write Like a Grrrl

Write Like A Grrrl

Write like a Grrrl was founded in 2013 by Kerry Ryan. Since Write like a Grrrl began its collaboration with For Books’ Sake in 2014, hundreds of women and non-binary writers across the UK have graduated from our courses. For more information on the history of Write like a Grrrl, see:


Kerry Ryan

Kerry Ryan

Kerry Ryan is the founder of Write like a Grrrl and has facilitated workshops all over the UK, in Ireland and in St Petersburg and Moscow. She has a Masters in Literary Studies and a PhD in Creative Writing. She has taught Writing for Performance at Spotlight, creative writing for women leaving sex work and domestic abuse survivors and facilitated a year long LGBTQ creative writing course as part of the Arts Council-funded New Queers on the Block. Her work has been featured in various publications including Steer, The Manchester Review, the Kenyon Review and Spilling Ink. Her play Trust was recently performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre.



Claire Askew

Claire Askew is the author of the novels All The Hidden Truths and What You Pay For, both published by Hodder & Stoughton. Her fiction and poetry have won various accolades, including the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, the 2017 Jessie Kesson Fellowship and the 2019 McIlvanney Debut Prize. Claire’s next book will be Break & Closure (forthcoming from Bloodaxe, 2021).


Jane Claire Bradley

Jane Claire Bradley is an award-winning queer, working-class writer, performer, therapist and educator living in Manchester. She is the author of a chapbook, Truth or Dare (2021), and a novel, Dear Neighbour (Little Brown, 2023). Jane is the winner of a Northern Debut Award from New Writing North, and has been published in a range of lit journals and anthologies, including So Long As You Write (Dear Damsels), The Modern Craft (Watkins) and Test Signal: The best contemporary northern fiction (Dead Ink/Bloomsbury).

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